Blu-Ray Review: Nikkatsu Diamond Guys Volume 1

NikkatsuDG_AV037Bringing three great Japanese films to collectors in fine form, Nikkatsu Diamond Guys Volume 1 comes highly recommended thanks to all three films being worth a watch for more reasons than the trio of actors featured on that cover art.While not flawless, seeing more Japanese cinema from the 50’s is an excellent thing if you in to expanding your cinematic horizons.

As all three of these flicks were new to me, it was quite pleasing to come away from this collection wanting to see more of what the directors and stars did over time. Longtime fans of the country’s movies will see some familiar faces in all three films, so the collection also works in that “spot the character actor” game we all play when we see a new film for the first time.


 

Seijun Suzuki’s 1958 mystery drama Voice Without A Shadow kicks things of with a noir-ish tale of Asako, a former newspaper phone operator who quit her job shortly after accidentally ringing up a killer in the middle of his dirty work. Three years later, Asako’s husband has a few work pals over for dinner and Asako recognizes one man’s voice as that of the killer. Talk about awkward dinner conversation! She has a minor breakdown, but things get worse when the killer turns up dead himself and Asako’s husband seems to be the prime suspect. In the middle of all this comes Ishikawa (Hideki Nitani), a reporter for that aforementioned newspaper. He had a crush on Asako back when she worked at the paper, but stepped aside when he discovered she was spoken for. Is his interest in the unsolved murders a new play for Asako’s intentions or is there some sort of actual journalistic integrity at work that will bring the killer of the killer to justice? Continue reading

Suicide Squad: Mission: Impossible With Some Bad, Bad Men (& Women)

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So, yup. If that first trailer from last year didn’t get your eyeballs and ears all perked up, Warner says watch this and you’ll be feeling around on the floor for both eyeballs and ears after they’ve popped out of and off your head. Go get something clean like a big plate to put on the floor near your monitor (I’ll wait) and click below:


 

See what I mean? You have until August 5 to find your eyeballs and ears, by the way. Also, if you do find those eyeballs first, go check out the rest of the posters over at Imp Awards just because they’re an even dozen simple and pretty cool designs.

10 Cloverfield Lane: Surprise! J.J.’s Dy-no-mite Trailer Blows Up the Internet


 

Ha and double ha. It seems producer/director J.J. Abrams is The Master of Surprise (not to be confused at all with The Master of Disguise). It also seems no one knew about this new film at all until the trailer dropped on the 15th followed by the sound of jaws dropping and keyboard tongues waggling for days since. Judging by the tagline on that poster, the very brief plot synopsis on IMDB and some bits gleaned from a few re-viewings, it’s clearly *not* a “sequel” to Cloverfield at all (despite all the “Cloverfield 2” posts online since this trailer dropped), but a film that seems to have a similar tone of stuff “out there” and how folks react to it.

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As for that cast, John Goodman? Great in pretty much any role he’s taken and who doesn’t like Mary Elizabeth Winstead? Okay, you three in the back? Get lost. Never heard of the other guy, but I may have seen something he’s in and not recalled his generic mug at all. Hey, I’m getting old… but two out of three ain’t bad in terms of the actors here. Anyway, March 11 is coming up sooner than you think and this may be quite the ride through paranoia whether or not it’s got any monsters in it at all.

As always, we shall see…

Odyssey of the Oddity Concludes Somewhat Abruptly

I can actually recall the first time I heard Space Oddity on the radio. It was sometime after its 1969 release and if memory serves me correctly, it almost made me miss my school bus. Between the haunting acoustic guitar work and the otherworldly sounds emanating from the clock radio in my room, I was transported into that tin can floating in the void. Instant David Bowie fan from that point on and what and education that was.

Suffragette City made me look up that word (the first one, silly!) and in doing so before the age of the internet, got me checking out the dictionary and then a few encyclopedias as that rabbit hole opened up as I discovered other issues related to that word. Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, union organizing, women’s rights (which I don’t think were listed in much detail as far as 70’s educational tomes were concerned) and other mind-expanding bits and pieces were in the process of being uncovered. One teacher I had noted my research and gave me a few newsletters to peruse from her college days. Of course, at that age (I was about ten or eleven at that point), most of that reading material was way above my brain grade but I absorbed them anyway. Continue reading

Grin & Bear It: Five Tips on How to Survive The Revenant

So, you’re planning to go see The Revenant this weekend, hmmmm? Well, if you’re not used to extended scenes of bear on man violence, the bear attack on Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) will put you under your seat or have you run screaming out of the theater because it’s quite possibly the most frighteningly realistic blending of CG and practical effects you’ve scene outside a horror movie.

Still, there’s a way to make it through the about 15 minutes of gorgeously rendered brutality (and the rest of the film’s violence is no pic-a-nic either) and come out no worse for the wear. Here are five tips to make it through (relatively unscathed): Continue reading

Comin’ At Ya! is Well, Comin’ At Ya! in 2016 Thanks to MVD Entertainment

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Hoo boy. If you’re old enough to recall the 80’s revival of 3D movies, like me, you paid your five bucks to see this one. Finally after years of fans clamoring for the cheesy classic Comin’ At Ya!, it’s back and much better looking thanks to distributor MVD Entertainment Group, writer/actor Tony Anthony (or Roger Pettito) and Sternco 3D. The 1981 R-rated spaghetti western helped set off the short-lived but somewhat successful venture by major and minor film studios into making 3D movies using newer polarized lenses that were light years ahead of the old red/blue (or red/green) anaglyph 3D from the 1950’s.

Set for a January 26, 2016 release on separate 3D Blu-Ray ($24.95) and DVD ($19.95) discs, both will also contain a flat 2D version of the film. A digital donload of the film is also in the works with a price point to be announced.

The new home video version of Comin’ At Ya! was supervised and produced by Tony Anthony himself and Tom Stern (In God’s Hands), through his company Sternco 3D. Sourced from a new 4K master, Comin’ At Ya! boasts a frame by frame digital conversion of the polarized over-and-under format of the original print, sourced from a brand new internegative into the MVC 3D format and new 5.1 surround sound.

While it may not spike another 3D revival on home video, it would be awesome to see the spectacularly goofball Raiders of the Lost Ark pastiche, Treasure of the Four Crowns also get this treatment. As usual, we shall see. But for now, expect your TV to get an eye-popping slice of nostalgia next month.

Working The Force Hard (For Better or Worse)

star_wars_episode_vii__the_force_awakens_ver3_xlgOkay, I can get behind a few product tie-ins for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but others are both annoying and baffling once you take off the fan blinders. The obvious ton-plus of licensed toys based directly on the film and that Sphero BB-8 app-enabled robot that have been flying off store shelves? Yeah, those are givens any fan should run someone over with a landspeeder to get. I’ll even give it up for the assorted Star Wars food products from cereal to fruit snacks and beverages to the somewhat expensive Ample Hills Ice Cream I’ve yet to try because I can’t justify paying $36 for four pints and waiting almost a month to pick up or have delivered due to high demand.

Yeah, yeah. I’m not some major news network or big site, so I know I won’t get a shipment of free ice cream to try out like a bunch of local outlets have, so I’ll have to use my imagination (and the Force!) to get an idea of how well all those ingredients come together. Wait, what was I talking about? Ice cream thoughts lead way down the rabbit hole of distraction… oh, right. Continue reading

Blu-Ray Review: Blood Rage

Blood Rage AV018Just in thyme for your Thanksgiving film feast, Arrow Video via MVD Visual strikes again with the perfectly themed (and definitely NOT for the whole family!) horror flick, 1983’s Blood Rage. If you’re a horror film fan who’s scratching your head raw and thinking out loud “Hey, I never heard of this one before!”, well… you’re not incorrect there, pal. Actually, director John Grissmer’s film wasn’t released in that year or even with that particular title. It came in on the tail end of the slasher flick craze and seemed to be deemed too violent for a genre that had gotten “tamer” over the course of the early 80’s.

The film finally hit theaters in 1987 as a heavily edited but still “R” rated version with the more generic title NIGHTMARE AT SHADOW WOODS, which is thankfully included in this special edition package along with a third cut of the film that combines footage from both versions into a big, bloody meal. And if it’s special features you want, Arrow’s got you well covered with a slew of features including interviews with cast members (Louise Lasser, Mark Soper), visual effects artist Ed French, and producer/actress Marianne Kanter on how this one came together and how she ended up in the film as a victim of one of the more outrageously icky cinematic murders of that era. A high body count, an overall offbeat tone, plenty of cheesy synth tunes tickling your eardrums and some solid and yucky gore effects from Ed French make this one a real treat.
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In The Heart Of The Sea: One Pissy Whale = Low Sea Men Count


Hmmm. On one hand, I don’t want to see In The Heart of the Sea in a theater because that means going in with people who know nothing about the true story of the whaling ship Essex and what happened to it and its crew sitting down and expecting some sort of action movie version of Moby Dick, a book that to some is nearly incomprehensible by modern standards. I’m betting myself a shiny new penny that most of the short attention spanners also don’t remember The Perfect Storm and its bleak (but somewhat too heroic to be plausible) finale that went for uplifting (in more ways than one, ha!) just so audiences would leave the theater in a somewhat more together condition and not drowning in all those salty tears.

On the other hand, it’s all that expensive CG work in the trailer and nothing at all in the commercials about the more horrifying aftermath where bad navigational decisions led to the Essex survivors forced to choose a little bit of cannibalism after weeks at sea that bugs me even more. Although I do wonder if fresh leg of man is safer than a movie theater hot dog globbed with chili and unnaturally orange “cheez”. Yeah, that’s a happy holiday film (and perfect Oscar bait) for your consideration, right?
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Blu-Ray Review: Eaten Alive

Eaten Alive AV015While The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was (and still is) a memorable horror film experience, Tobe Hooper’s follow up, 1976’s Eaten Alive (released in 1977) was and is memorable for entirely different reasons. While it’s got a compelling and frightening performance from Neville Brand and that bathed in red sound stage set makes the film even more frightening, there’s a “too many hands” feel to the production process that makes the film more of a “B” than it deserves to be. That said, it’s yet another excellently produced Arrow release that’s worth a buy for the solid 2K restoration job and copious special features as well as the chance to see a film you may not have heard of previously (or had forgotten entirely).

Then again, given the incredibly sleazy origins of the “allegedly based on actual incidents” story here, Eaten Alive also works quite well as a pure “B” flick. Running a tidy 87 minutes, no time is wasted here as Brand’s psychotic veteran motel keeper, Judd, kills off a local lady of the evening after a tryst gone wrong at a brothel nearby sends her scampering for the hills after the madam (Carolyn Jones) gives her the boot. Judd runs the Starlight Hotel (one of the film’s many alternate titles along with Death Trap, Legend of the Bayou, Starlight Slaughter and Horror Hotel) which also happens to have a live crocodile as an attraction living in a penned in “swamp” outside. You know that Judd and his “pet” are going to be pretty busy as the film progresses and the victims show up as if there’s a massive magnet yanking their cars in that general direction. Continue reading